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Longtermism and the Law

Our actions (and inactions) may have historically unique consequences for humans living hundreds or even thousands of years into the future, but their rights and interests are rarely represented in current political and economic systems. Contributors to this symposium discuss the role of law in sustaining and improving life hundreds or even thousands of years into the future. This symposium is an outcome of the presentations at the 2022 Multidisciplinary Forum on Longtermism and the Law, co-organized by the University of Hamburg and the Legal Priorities Project.

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Krieg, wie er auch hieße

Wie das russische Recht das Sprechen und das Schweigen formt

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A War By Any Other Name

How Russian Law Shapes Language and Instills Silence

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Volume 4,
Issue 2
July 2022



9/11, zwei Jahrzehnte später: eine verfassungsrechtliche Spurensuche

9/11 hat sich zum 20. Mal gejährt. Welche Spuren hat dieses Ereignis in der globalen und nationalen Verfassungs- und Menschenrechtsarchitektur hinterlassen? Dieser Frage gehen wir gefördert von der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung in einer Folge von Online-Symposien nach und bringen Rechtswissenschaftler:innen aus verschiedenen Regionen und Rechtskulturen ins Gespräch.

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17 August 2022

Why Banning Russian Tourists from Schengen Might not Be Unlawful

Recently, politicians in different EU countries have suggested barring Russian tourists from visiting the EU. Such a ban would be in retaliation for the war waged by Russia against Ukraine. From a legal perspective, these suggestions raise the interesting question whether such a blanket ban would be lawful. From a legal perspective, the question is precisely whether there is a possibility to amend the existing acquis, in order to ban Russians from obtaining short term visas for the purpose of visiting Europe as tourists. It seems hardly tenable to argue that the EU (secondary) legislature is somehow bound by the ratio legis of the current Schengen visa system. Continue reading >>

Heated tempers and legal ambiguities

After some heads of EU governments advocated for an all-out ban of Russian nationals’ Schengen visas, a heated academic and political debate arose over the question whether the EU could bar Russians from acquiring visas for a short-term stay in the Schengen area. Could a sweeping travel ban for Russian citizens be justified in the light of EU law? This blogpost advises caution. Continue reading >>
16 August 2022

Why Restricting Tourist Visas to Russians is Legitimate

In the aftermath of Ukrainian President Zelenski’s call on the EU to introduce a ban on short-term ‘tourist’ visas for Russians wishing to travel the Schengen area, a lively debate on the issue erupted, featuring important interventions not last on this website. For instance, Sarah Ganty argues that an EU tourist visa ban would be ethically wrong and unlawful. However, there is no absolute right to travel through the EU. Continue reading >>

Das Prinzip Verantwortung

Zweifel waren seine Sache nie. Deswegen wird der ehemalige Bundeskanzler und Parteivorsitzende Gerhard Schröder die Entscheidung des Schiedsgerichts der SPD Hannover, ihn weder aus der Partei auszuschließen noch anders zu sanktionieren, bloß als Bestätigung seiner Person und Position verstehen. Warum denn auch nicht? Continue reading >>

Die Verflechtungsfalle des Europawahlrechts

Die Reform der Wahlen zum Europäischen Parlament ist eine große Herausforderung. Nach einem bisher erfolglosen Reformversuch von 2015/18 hat das EP im Mai 2022 eine zweite Initiative für eine viel weitergehende Reform gestartet. Auch diese wird nicht einfach umzusetzen sein. Continue reading >>
15 August 2022

Long-term Constitutional Law for Global Public Goods

The rules-based order necessary for realizing the sustainable development goals (SDGs) requires antagonistic, perennial struggles for justice challenging abuses of power and struggling for collective protection of the SDGs. Without such a ‘Sisyphus morality’ and stronger leadership from constitutional democracies for improving multilevel governance of global public goods, realization of the SDGs and protecting ‘human rights of all’ risk remaining a utopia. Continue reading >>

Pathogen Dematerialisation as an Existential Threat to Global Health Justice

Rapid levels of growth and development within the field of synthetic biology pose an undeniable threat to equity and global health justice as a result of the rise in the dematerialisation of pathogen samples. Until fairly recently, it was impossible to detach physical virus samples from the information they contained - the sample was the information - but technological advancements have allowed for the dematerialisation of pathogen samples to occur on a global scale. Whilst there are undoubtedly benefits to be derived from dematerialisation, it poses an existential threat to those international agreements which are underpinned by access and benefit sharing agreements. Continue reading >>

Extratemporal Jurisdiction

When may a court legitimately rule over affairs of the future at all? Before thinking about how to resolve such cases, we need to clarify the conditions legitimatising the exercise of judicial authority. My (necessarily cursory) argument in this blogpost is twofold. First, I argue that it is both useful and conceptually apt to think about legitimate authority as a jurisdictional question. Second, I propose a heuristic condition that justifies the judicial exercise of extratemporal jurisdiction over future events: preserving choice.

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14 August 2022

Extinguishing the Court

The three quasi-judges in the Constitutional Tribunal and their participation in its adjudication are like a spoonful of tar in a barrel of honey: they contaminate the whole of the Tribunal. That is why the whole of the Constitutional Tribunal should be replaced in the event of a electoral victory of the democratic opposition in 2023. Continue reading >>

Proactive International Law

In this blog post we challenge the reactive nature of international law, a discipline that has largely developed in response to specific crises and incidents, such as wars, pandemics, mass migrations, economic breakdowns, or technological advancements. While we acknowledge that the reactive paradigm of international law has facilitated adoption of pragmatic solutions to the concrete problems encountered and offered international law a path by which to direct its development, this approach, we contend, has led international law to be backward-looking, short-sighted, and ill-prepared to address newly emerging global threats and advances. Continue reading >>
13 August 2022

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

In Brazil, the National Congress recently passed the Constitutional Amendment no. 123, nicknamed the “Kamikaze Bill” due to it budgetary impact. It qualifies the current situation – inflation, rise of gasoline price, shortage of goods, pandemic to name just a few – as an emergency state, creating financial and tax benefits for biofuel producers and providing welfare payments for part of the population. Continue reading >>

Wie privat ist der Staat an der Spitze?

Der Streit um das Altkanzlerbüro von Gerhard Schröder legt die ungeklärten Fragen in der Abgrenzung von privater und staatlicher Sphäre im Verfassungsrecht offen. Continue reading >>
12 August 2022

The Rise of the Constitutional Protection of Future Generations

Constitutions worldwide have seen the rise of future generations. Considering the 193 UN member states, Kosovo, Palestine, and Taiwan, 41% (81 out of 196) of constitutions explicitly referenced future generations as of 2021. We find that this trend started in the early 1990s, lagging behind environmental constitutionalism by two decades. Why do constitutions increasingly refer to future generations? Based on a comprehensive data collection including all constitutions ever written, we argue that future generations are a significant part of a modern, universalist language of constitution-making. Continue reading >>

Privacy in Peril

On Saturday, 25 June 2022, American women woke up to a different reality – one day earlier, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, five justices on the US Supreme Court decided that the US Constitution does not protect a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. This undoing of women’s autonomy comes in part from the Dobbs majority’s failure to recognize that the right to terminate a pregnancy derives from a right to privacy. Roe and Casey recognized that reproductive freedom implicates bodily integrity and physical privacy, along with a decisional privacy interest in the critical life choices surrounding reproduction and family planning. In the space of a single day, the Dobbs Court eviscerated the freedom and the privacy rights Americans have relied on since 1973. Moreover, in an era driven by an information economy and rapidly expanding surveillance technologies, the Dobbs Court’s eradication of the right to terminate a pregnancy also severely compromises informational privacy, which involves the right to shield information from disclosure. Continue reading >>

Extra-Constitutional Commitment Mechanisms

The solution to many public dilemmas requires long-term effort by successive generations. Such situation arises whenever the solution to a public dilemma cannot be implemented instantaneously but is dependent on the continuous effort of future governments (and their citizens). In this post I discuss the problem of securing intergenerational cooperation, focusing on the challenge of designing long-term commitment mechanisms. I will also reflect briefly on the tension between commitment mechanisms and the democratic ideal of citizen sovereignty (allowing each generation to make its own choices). Continue reading >>

Von der Freiheit der Zukunft auf den Boden der Tatsachen

Hitze und Dürre kennzeichnen den Sommer 2022. Waldbrände in Spanien, Portugal, Frankreich, Italien, Tschechien und auch Deutschland sind Symbol für die Folgen der Klimakrise. Hitzewellen sind bereits heute wahrscheinlicher und intensiver. Die Auswirkungen auf den Menschen sind unübersehbar. Tausende Hitzetote wurden aus Europas Süden gemeldet. Dazu kommen Ernteausfälle, die Rationierung von Trinkwasser und Einschränkungen der Industrie wegen mangelndem Kühlwasser (z.B. AKWs) und reduzierter Transportkapazitäten der Frachtschifffahrt. Continue reading >>

Why Banning Russians from Schengen Is Unlawful

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Prime Minister of Finland and others have been calling for an EU-wide ban of Russian citizens from Schengen visas. Unquestionably, the horrible crimes perpetrated by the Russian state should be punished. But Russians are citizens of a totalitarian state, they are not Putin. And whether we like it or not, there is no legal way under current EU law to adopt a blanket citizenship-based ban against Russians acquiring Schengen visas. Even more: political attention paid to it by persons in leadership positions is deeply surprising, if not irresponsible. Continue reading >>
11 August 2022

Narrow Rules are not Enough

With continuing proliferation of increasingly capable AI systems, we will need regulation to address the associated risks. Since our ability to foresee such future risks is very limited, our best bet is to base such regulation on relatively general principles, rather than narrow rules. We think that negative human rights with their existing broad international support could form a suitable foundation both for flexible regulation and for the associated technical solutions. Continue reading >>

An Intertemporal Perspective on Intergenerational Equity

The traditional understanding of intertemporal law is not persuasive – a modified intertemporal approach to intergenerational equity is necessary. This approach would have to shift the perspective of intertemporal law from a retrospective present-past relationship to a future-oriented perspective. Instead of observing the evolutionary developments of law over time and retrospectively applying them at a certain point in the future, the new approach departs from the contemporary legal regime and attempts to anticipate its prospective evolutionary developments – with regard to intergenerational equity only. Continue reading >>

Mein Spion ist immer bei mir

Am 11. Mai hat die Europäische Kommission ihren Entwurf einer „Verordnung zur Festlegung von Vorschriften zur Prävention und Bekämpfung des sexuellen Missbrauchs von Kindern“ vorgelegt. Die ersten Reaktionen auf den Entwurf waren kontrovers. Bei näherer Betrachtung bündelt der Entwurf einerseits Maßnahmen zur Bekämpfung sexualisierter Gewalt, die seit geraumer Zeit geläufig sind, deren technische Probleme und rechtliche Zweifelsfragen aber nach wie vor nicht vollständig bewältigt sind. Neu ist andererseits, dass nach der vorgeschlagenen Verordnung die Individualkommunikation auf bestimmten Kommunikationsdiensten großflächig und teils anlasslos auf bestimmte Inhalte durchsucht werden soll. Gerade dieser Teil des Entwurfs ist besonders kritisch zu bewerten. Continue reading >>